Five must-have back to school laptop accesories – PCWorld

Getting organized for a new semester of school doesn’t just stop with a new laptop purchase: A truly effective college student will need a few more items that’ll improve his or her productivity. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even graduate on time. Here’s our list of must-have laptop add-ons and accessories.

h236hl 01Acer

Acer’s H236HL uses superior IPS technology and doesn’t break the bank.

Monitor

If a larger monitor improves productivity for an office drone, it can certainly help students out, too. I’d recommend picking up an inexpensive external monitor such as Acer’s H236HL ($180). It’s an IPS panel (which means off-axis viewing is great) and it has more accurate colors than most laptops. It’s also very affordable, with prices as low as $125 on the street. If your kid really wants to increase productivity (don’t believe the hooey that one monitor “improves your focus,” either), he or she can use the laptop’s screen alongside the Acer to create an ad hoc multi-monitor setup.

wireless combo mk270 glamour imagesLogitech

The wireless Logitech MK270 can be found for just $20 and uses a nano USB dongle that can be left in full time.

 

Keyboard and mouse

Even the world’s best laptop keyboard and trackpad are inferior next to a real keyboard and mouse. So if you buy that monitor, go ahead and also pick up a low-cost mouse and keyboard combo such as Logitech’s MK270 ($30), which gets you a full-sized membrane keyboard and wireless optical mouse. Even niftier, it uses Logitech’s Unify receiver, so a single dongle controls both. The Unify nano receiver is small enough that it can just be left plugged in all the time. When your student gets back to his or her dorm room, the keyboard and mouse are ready to roll—just plug in power to the laptop and the external monitor.

amazonbasics2Amazon

A neoprene sleeves provides some protection when the laptop gets shoved into a backpack.

A laptop sleeve

When you tearfully wave goodbye to your kid as you pull away from the campus quad, don’t be surprised if your old ugly black laptop bag gets tossed aside while that brand-new laptop goes naked into a backpack.

College students value style, and your yard sale black laptop bag from 1998 isn’t style. Since you don’t understand youth style either, consider a simple laptop sleeve that they can put into their bag of choice. While it won’t offer quite as much protection as a bag, it’s better than nothing at all—which will happen if the bag you pick is too ugly for them.

You can get a Amazon Basics neoprene laptop sleeve ($11 or less) from Amazon and in sizes to fit laptops from 7-inches to 17-inches.

Portable USB Hard Drive

Hopefully, any laptop you buy your student will make it through all four years of college (fingers crossed!), but some things are unavoidable—and a crashed hard drive, horrible malware outbreak, or corrupted operating system can ruin everything. A simple portable hard drive will have the space to back up all of the laptop’s files and can be found for a reasonable price, like this 1TB Seagate model ($65).

seagate2stbx1000101 Seagate

A portable external USB 3.0, such as this Seagate 1TB drive and Windows built-in backup, gives your kid a safety net.

Either manually do backups, or set Windows to do your backups for you to give you some peace of mind.

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